My experience with learning to drive *

It seems like an absolute lifetime ago now that I was taking my driving lessons and learning how to drive. It’s one of those things that really makes you step back and realise how quickly time is going! As with most teenagers in the UK, I started learning to drive when I was 17, my lessons kindly being a birthday present from my parents. Although I’m heavily into Motorsport and cars now, I wasn’t at the time – driving what just something I wanted to do because I wanted my independence as an 18 year old and learning to drive was the next logical step. 

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But it wasn’t entirely simple and easy for me. I signed up for lessons with this one company and my instructor was awful. Like, really awful. He would shout, actually shout, at me when I did something wrong, you know completely overlooking the fact that I’m a 17 year old with 3 driving lessons under my belt but he seemed to expect Lewis Hamilton style manoeuvres. I quickly got the heck out of there and found a new instructor who had been recommended to me by some girls in my school.

So I was back to square one and started my lessons from scratch with this new instructor who thankfully, was nice and patient and I went on to pass my test with him. It did take me 3 times to pass my test due to a few hiccups in the first two. The first failure was a funny old one because not only did I have the examiner in my car but I also had a senior examiner sitting in the back, who was there to basically monitor the examiner. Looking back now, I don’t know why I didn’t object to it because it was him distracting me (not intentionally) that caused me to fail.

So finally, during test number 3 I passed, with only 2 minors. I then went on to do Pass Plus and on paper, I was the perfect driver! I got myself a little mint green Ford KA which I absolutely loved and miss dearly (even though it had no air con and no CD player!) I definitely had a few silly incidences during my first year or so driving, such as reversing into the hedge at the end of my road and over-shooting the turning and knocking my wheel rim off by skimming a bollard. But I’m still here in one piece and that’s all that matters!

Unfortunately, after I developed severe Generalised Anxiety Disorder, driving was one of the things that really suffered. I tried to get back into driving but it was difficult; it made me incredibly anxious and I even had a few panic attacks whilst behind the wheel which I’m aware is super dangerous. I kept trying and trying but then my beloved KA didn’t pass it’s MOT so I was left with no car, so learning to re-drive was put on hold.

Although I could quite easily be put on my parents car insurance and drive their car now, it would still require a lot of practice. Not only because I haven’t driven in years but also because their cars are automatics whereas I’m only used to a manual so I’d have to get used to that too on top of managing my anxiety. It does make me really sad that I don’t drive at the moment even though I have a perfectly good licence sitting in my purse. And although I work from home and don’t really need to drive anywhere, it’d still be nice to have the option to jump in the car and pop to the shop or pick my boyfriend up from work.

Driving is a big part of people’s lives so I think it’s important to talk about the good and the bad elements of it, right from starting your lessons all the way until you’re an experienced driver and not pretend like once you pass your test, that’s it, you’re free and independent and you won’t have a care in the world because you can now drive. That’s very much how my life was for a while, until all of a sudden it wasn’t. But driving is something I’d love to start working on again soon; getting practice in an automatic and then gradually doing small journeys.

What was your experience like when you learnt to drive?

Summer is a great time to be driving too or even if you don’t drive yourself, going on road trips or journeys to the beach or the forest with someone that does! Crank that air con up, press play on your favorite tracks and stock up on snacks and you’ve got yourself the perfect road trip! Discover more Summer driving tips at Auto Protect*

* This is a collaborative post
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48 thoughts on “My experience with learning to drive *

  1. Your driving story sounds very similar to mine Jenny. I passed on my third time and had a few dodgy instructors before finding a nice patient one. After passing, I never got a car and gradually I lost my confidence with it all. I got a car a year or so ago but I just felt anxious and nervous and I used it less & less so I ended up selling it. I don’t really need a car at the moment but it would be nice to try driving again in the future. Thanks for sharing, it’s reassuring to know my situation is similar to yours 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  2. That’s such a shame Jenny. Hope one day you’ll be able to drive again. It’s so nice of you to share your experience here. I know driving is such a big deal. It took me five attempts to get my licence! I was so nervous with each driving test I took. I finally got through after I went out with my mum again and again and again. It wasn’t the driving instructor who got me through. I failed each time with him. It was my mum. Bless her. 🙂

  3. It’s such a shame you had to give up driving! I waited until I was 23 to start learning – everyone was rushing me to pass but I just took my time – and I passed first time. My car is a brand new finance car, so I get a lot of jokes about ‘mommy and daddy’ but they always promised they’d get my first car, and I love it! I even wrote a blog post about it. Great post Jenny, I love your blog so much xx

    • I didn’t exactly give up driving it’s like anxiety forced me to stop and unfortunately circumstances haven’t worked out that I can really start again 😦 Ah people will always play the “mummy and daddy” card won’t they without knowing the situation, ignore them! Xxx

      • I think it’s just jealousy anyway – my dad worked for MG Rover when I was born so naturally he said he would get me a car, and didn’t want to back track when he was made redundant!

        If you ask me, your parent’s automatic may be better for your anxiety because the car takes control of the gears so there’s less to worry about!

  4. I passed first time but have had to spend 300 hours teaching my three kids to drive. 100 hours each kid. Quite different from the 3 month time limit and no hours requirement when I learnt. Is it expensive to take lessons in Uk?

  5. I passed third time too!! I was just so so nervous! My anxiety is fine whilst driving but if something goes a little wrong I do get very panicked about it and have to tell myself not to worry about it or I think about it all day Xx

  6. Thank you for writing a post like this! I’m 24 and still haven’t got my license. I always felt like such a failure because everyone I went to school with has pretty much got theirs and I still get the bus (when I can). I also have severe anxiety and it’s the main reason I haven’t taken my test. People make it seem like the most important thing in the world. I hope you do manage to drive again, good luck with it!

  7. I’m not able to drive yet to be honest and I’m a bit nervous about it. I am looking over the questions for my theory test and I’m hoping to do that soon. What’s Pass Plus, we don’t have that here? Well done on getting your driving test.

    • I’m sure you would have something like pass plus. It’s an extra course you take after you’ve passed which allows you to practice on motorways and more severe types of driving e.g in severe weather!

      • Oh that’s a brilliant thing to have. It’d be so handy. We’re always saying here how it’d be great to have something to learn how to drive on motorways and drive in the evenings, etc because it’s not something you learn during the driving lessons.

  8. I lived in Central London at the time and took lessons from British School of Motoring or BSM who were allegedly the best. I had to go to their office on Baker Street as that was the nearest to my home in Victoria. My first lesson and I drove around Hyde Park Corner! It was quite nerve racking! My test here in the US was so easy in comparison. It didn’t even last 5 minutes. I could have traded my UK licence but I wanted to keep it so I now have two!

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience with driving! Your experience sounds exactly like mine! I had a shite instructor the first time and the second time, I had someone that was very patient and nice. I ended up passing the exam after she went through a few lessons with me. But somewhere along the lines, I lost my confidence and started doubting, and eventually that led me to develop anxiety when I drive. I stopped driving and only drive when I know the route and there’s like no one on the road, haha.

    I retook some lessons to gain my confidence back. I still don’t drive as much as I’d like to but my anxiety has gone down a bit. I think it’s true when everyone says practice just makes perfect. I’d love to hit the road again once my boyfriend and I decide to buy our own car.

  10. I ended passing my first time. But this was with a lot of practice and my parents putting me in driving school. The first time I got into the car it was a disaster! I ran on the curb, was in the middle of the road lol it was awful! But eventually I got the hang of it:)

    Xoxo http://magicoftomorrow.info

  11. I passed my driving test first time but only because I had lessons way beyond what I needed to. My driving instructor was sure I’d driven a car before when I had my very first driving lesson… I hadn’t, but I’d ridden a scooter for a couple of years 😀

  12. I started learning to drive at 17 but like you, I had a dreadful instructor. He made me cry on one of the busiest roundabouts into Edinburgh and after that I just never went back.I really need to learn to drive though, I want the freedom! It’s definitely my goal for the next few months.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  13. I feel really lucky that I found a nice, patient instructor as my first choice. I’m currently trying to pass my test. Have so far failed three. Driving is definitely about independence for me. I can’t imagine spending the rest of my life not being able to choose where I go and when. Fingers crossed for the fourth go!

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